Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Finding The Good in Goodbye

Dusting shelves and packing up dishes. Paying the final bills. Taking down my pictures and calling the electrician to reconnect the original water heater. Returning my P.O. box key and gathering up all my spare apartment keys. Organizing my remaining belongings into various categories: give away, pack, and possibly pack if there's space.

The reality of my immanent departure comes in waves. Usually it doesn't seem real, but other times it hits me. When I'm taking yet another bag of garbage out to the burn pile. When I'm bagging up my remaining food items to give away. When I'm researching cell phone plans in America or checking my email hoping to see something from a potential future employer.

I've crossed over Ugandan borders 20 times, and I have a full passport to show for it. But one week from today, I'll be flying out of Uganda for the final time. This is really happening. I'm moving back to America.

Perhaps it's all the self-reflection getting to me, but I find it appropriate that I'm going home with three bags, like they represent my three years spent in Uganda. As I clean windows and sweep out the long-neglected nooks and crannies, I find it symbolic that I'm alone with my thoughts once again. Alone with God. Much of the past years have been spent just like this--alone.

And that's not such a bad thing I've come to learn. In all that alone time, I've had many opportunities to practice depending on God, communicating with him, listening to the quiet nudges of the Spirit. I relied on Him to speak into confusion and put the chaos into order. I grew to love my time spent alone, with Him. I learned that even in the silence there can be complete fullness.

In these final days here in Uganda, even though everything else is changing, this has not changed. I'm still leaning on Jesus for strength, for patience, for ordering the chaos. I'm asking him to help me finish well. Listening for his voice as I stare at blank walls, empty shelves, and full suitcases. Relying on him for all that's ahead- the final goodbyes, the travels, the unknown of the future. Trusting him with the loss of leaving, the excitement of going home, and the hope for all that might be.

Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
She who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with her.
Psalm 126:5-6

Monday, May 4, 2015

Not My Home

As my final days in Uganda are ticking away, I'm beginning to face the fact that there are going to many hard goodbyes. Some of these people I hope to see Stateside one day, but I'm very aware that there are others I won't see again this side of eternity. In order to be reunited with some really important people, I have to part ways with others. I'm struck with the reality that I cannot gain one precious thing without losing another. If I want the hellos, I must bear the weight of goodbyes.

Those the LORD has rescued will return. 
They will enter Zion with singing; 
everlasting joy will crown their heads. 
Gladness and joy will overtake them, 
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.
Isaiah 55:11

Do you long for this day as much as I do?

For that sweet moment when you'll be overtaken with gladness and joy because all your people are together in one place?

Does your heart thrill at the thought of never facing another day of sorrow and sighing?

No more goodbyes and too many places your heart calls home.

This is why groups of close friends often joke about moving in together. Buying land and living on it with our people.
"Why not? Let's do it! We have doctors, teachers, farmers, and pastors... 
It'll be great! We'll be together forever." 

At this point in my life, I've probably committed to four different communes because all over the world we're longing for uninterrupted, soul-level community. We're close, but we could still be closer. Something deep within each of us knows that we're not designed for "goodbye."
We're not built for parting ways.
We want to dwell together forever.
Eternity is in our hearts.

My soul longs for the day when the word "home" means the exact same thing for all of us.
No more goodbyes.
No more hearts dwelling in multiple places at once.
Just one Home.
Forever. And ever.